Fox now expects its Sky deal to be approved in 2018

Business executives shaking hands
(Getty/Martin Barraud)

21st Century Fox is tempering its expectations for its acquisition of European pay-TV operator Sky and shifting the anticipated closing date to early 2018.

Fox previously expected the deal to be approved by the end of 2017.

Late last year, the company announced a bid to buy the rest of Sky in a deal that values Sky at around $23 billion. Fox already owns 40% of the company.

Since then though, Fox has run up against an extensive review by U.K. regulators.

Last month, Karen Bradley, U.K. secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, issued a statement saying she needed more time to fully review all relevant representations regarding the deal. Bradley said she was "minded to" refer the deal to the CMA on grounds of maintaining a diversity of viewpoints across the media landscape.

“Unless new evidence from other representations changes my mind in the coming weeks the bid will therefore be referred to a Phase 2 review on at least one ground—media plurality,” Bradley said.

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Fox responded by pledging its commitment to addressing plurality concerns and urging regulators to speed up the process.

“We were pleased Ofcom concluded that these undertakings to maintain the editorial independence of Sky News would mitigate any concerns around media plurality. Consequently, we are disappointed that the Secretary of State remains minded to refer on plurality,” said 21st Century Fox in a statement.

“In light of the transaction’s benefits to the UK creative economy, we would urge the Secretary of State to complete the regulatory process expeditiously.”